expanding the parameters of finnishness

Archive for the ‘sauna’ Category

sauna exists, therefore i am

Posted by Markus Raty on August 8, 2006

One of the great mysteries in life is why so few Canadians have adopted the sauna culture at their cottages. Of the fifteen or so pals of mine who have family cottages, only ours is sauna-equipped. It seems like such a no-brainer; extends the season, mitigates the weather, cleanses the body and soul..the list goes on.

This past weekend I had the good fortune of being ‘up north’ at our Parry Sound cottage. As it is water-access only we dont often venture too far while up there. This time however, I had been invited to the Glass (Paula and Samantha) cottage over on Porno Järvi (youll get it shortly). Turns out that some 19km east on 124, just past Waubamik, there lies a small lake known to some as Vowel Lake and to others as Porno Järvi. A healthy mix of Finns and Canadians have been cottaging here since the early 1900’s and as the Finns are wont to do, they cottage naked. Ok, at least they sauna naked..for the most part. Hence the moniker (which means Porno Lake) given the lake by the Canadians.

In any case, in my short afternoon there, I found myself immersed 
amongst a gaggle of Finns and managed to sample four delicious saunas, enjoying a hearty löyly in each of them. Although not as lively a bunch as they were in the 60s and 70s, this gang, ranging in age from oh 6 or 7 all the way up to somewhere in the 60s put on a clinic of cottaging camaraderie. And how.

Over the years not only have they managed to keep their community tight-knit, they have inculcated the Canadians on the lake in our famed sauna culture. Almost every non-Finn cottage on the lake had a sauna perched on shore, often built by one of the Finns themselves! After saunas and a cold beverage or two I reluctantly made my way back to our slice of Finland some 19 km westward.

But yet another example of random Finnishness sprouting up in this great country of ours.

Spending time in saunas of all shapes and sizes, and in our humble Parry Sound sauna in particular, is one of my lifelong passions. Cliche, you might say, but I jest not nor do I hyperbolize. How saunaing and the sauna culture shapes who we are both physically and mentally is one of the subjects I hold nearest to my heart. Be forewarned.


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